Revelation Chapter 6:9
Revelation 6:9 – When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
When Jesus opens the fifth seal, John’s attention draws back to the heavenly throne. John sees an altar. Underneath the altar are the souls of those slain for the word of God; they died for their faith in Christ:
Romans 8:36 – As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
In the earthly tabernacle, the “altar of burnt offering” represents the heavenly altar that the saints are under. (Click here for a schematic of the tabernacle).:
Exodus 40:29 – And he put the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Just as the martyrs are under the altar, the priest poured out the blood of the Old Testament sacrifice at the “base of the altar”:
Leviticus 4:7 – And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood of the bull at the base of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
Recall from Revelation 2, Symrna was a persecuted church. Christ encouraged them to remain faithful, even to death. The name “Symrna” is Greek for the bitter spice “myrrh.” As the crushed myrrh is a fragrant aroma, the Lord sees those who are faithful, even to the death, for His sake:
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
The “life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11-14). The martyrs under the heavenly “altar of burnt offering” sacrificed their lives as an offering, which is a fragrant aroma, precious to the Lord:
Psalms 116:15 – Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.
Note the martyrs are “souls.” They have not been resurrected yet. Some believe this group includes all the martyrs since Stephen (Acts 7:59-60). However, the Church body will receive their resurrection bodies at the rapture, before the Tribulation begins. Therefore, these are people who become believers after the rapture. Also, those responsible for their deaths still dwell on earth, as we will see in the next section (Revelation 6:10), which suggests these souls were recently martyred.
After the “Great Middle East” and “Gog and Magog” wars, God will “reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth” (Zephaniah 2:11) and God will make Himself known to many nations (Ezekiel 38:23). Many will come to accept Jesus as their Savior after these two supernatural wars, which I believe take place near the beginning of the Tribulation (Click here for more on this view).
These Tribulation martyrs will die by the “word of their testimony,” which is their testimony of the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ:
Revelation 12:11 – And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
John 3:32-34 – And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.
1 John 5:9 – If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
It appears that the breaking of the fifth seal is the point at which God allows Satan and the powers of darkness to persecute and kill believers without restraint, until the Lord brings in the last of the harvest of the souls of believers in Revelation 14:13-16. The “Mystery Babylon” religion will slaughter the saints in the first half of the Tribulation, and Satan and the antichrist will slaughter them in the second half of the Tribulation:
Revelation 17:5-6 – And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
Revelation 12:11, 17 – And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death…. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 13:10-12, 15 – He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed…. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
“Fifth seal”: This seal describes the force of the saint’s prayers for God’s vengeance. Its events will begin in the first half and mark the mid-point and events following, in the 7 year period, which the last 3-1/2 years is called the Great Tribulation (2:22; 7:14; see notes on Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3-4). The second 3-1/2 year period (11:2; 12:6; 13:5), features the Day of the Lord, in which God unleashes His judgment and wrath on the earth in intensifying waves (see note on 1 Thess. 5:2).
When the fifth seal is broken, John sees “under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” Christians martyred for their faith (compare 7:9, 13-15; 17:6; Matt. 24:9-14; see also Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19).
Shortly after the beginning of the Tribulation there will be a great “soul harvest” in which many millions will come to faith in Christ, many as a result of the preaching of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses described (in Rev. chapter 7).
Most of these Tribulation saints will be killed by the forces of Antichrist. These martyred souls will cry out for God to avenge their deaths, but they will be told to “rest a little while longer,” until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
Imagine! Despite the desperate evil of the Antichrist, despite the horrors of war and famine and pestilence and death, God is still so much in control of earthly events that even the number of believing martyrs has been fixed by divine decree.
God tells us, as the apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Thessalonians:
2 Thess. 1:6-8 “It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,” “and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels,” “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So many churches have forgotten that persecution comes to the true believer. Many teach that if you are not living prosperously, both physically and spiritually, that you are not in right standing. That’s certainly just not so, quite the opposite is true.
We must be crucified with Christ. We must get our flesh under subjection.
In Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
The Christian has tribulation which makes him strong. We are no better than our Master. If He suffered, we will suffer. The difference in our suffering and His, is that our suffering is generally not unto the death.
image courtesy: Revelation 6-9 Tomas Griffin
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We are now living in the absolute End Times as per biblical prophecy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of Kings. 2nd Coming and return is IMMENENT!.
Please do not waist another a minute.
No matter what religion you serve, there is only one God.
If, you want to be assured that you will not have to endure the perilous times that will befall you.
Irrespective, of what sins you may have committed at any time of your life. If you humble yourself and ask for God’s forgiveness. He will forgive you and wash them all away and welcome you as his beloved son or daughter with open arms.
If you are not a child of Father God or have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life yet?
I implore you to do this without delay.
Read this prayer of Salvation and ask God to forgive you now and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be assured of eternal life.